Steven Furtick - Be Careful What You Copy
Before we get into the Word, let me mention we're getting really excited about Elevation Nights. We're going on tour October 26 through Thursday, November 3. Now listen up. Let me tell you where we're coming. It's going to be me, and I might let Chris Brown come. I haven't decided about it yet. We'll be in Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Sunrise, Florida; and Jacksonville, Florida. If you are within 500 miles of Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Sunrise, Florida; or Jacksonville, Florida, we would love to see you. That's October 26 through November 3. You can go to elevationnights.com to get your tickets and information. We'll be there.
I was thinking today other people would drive 200 miles for what we have right here in our backyard, the presence of this amazing community of believers. I'm excited today. One lady told me one time she drove 12 hours to come to church, and she said, "It was on my bucket list". I stood up and told the church, "You see, what's on her bucket list is in many of our backyards". You just have to keep that perspective. God is doing an amazing work at all of our locations and all around the world. Give God a praise. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. That has new significance in the time of COVID, "Let everything that has breath". We appreciate more that God gave us another day and that we're here to praise him, and we want to take full advantage of that. Are you ready for the Word of God? It doesn't matter if you are. I am. I'm excited enough for all of us.
I want to share with you from Hebrews 8:3-7. "Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one [Jesus] also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: 'See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.' But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another". Back to verse 5: "They serve [the high priest in the Levitical line from the lineage of Aaron] at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle…" They serve in a sanctuary that is a copy. This is why Moses was warned. "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain".
The Lord told me to give you the sermon in the form of a warning today, and the warning is: Be Careful What You Copy. I didn't say not to copy. That's dumb. People will tell you sometimes, "Don't copy. Be an original". No, you need to copy a little bit. You need to copy through certain developmental stages. Our kids copy. That's how they put one foot in front of the other and learn to walk. You don't teach your kid, "Now if you don't want to walk on your legs, you might want to try walking around on your hands". They copy. They copy sounds phonetically. It's a part of the developmental process to copy. If you were learning an instrument, you would copy the scales. If you were learning a language, you would copy the alphabet. You don't make up a new alphabet. It's just you shouldn't stop with the copy. That's the thing. In anything, you shouldn't just stop with the copy. So, in raising three of my own now, I'm sitting here thinking, "What do I want them to copy of me, and what do I want them to cast out"?
I feel like since they have my genetics, it's my job to help shepherd them through some of this stuff. It's really important that I disciple them as a dad. I want to disciple my kids. Not through a class. I don't really think they need another class from me, especially since I'm a preacher. They get to hear my words a lot. But in what I do, in what I show them. And not just about Bible verses. I don't just want to disciple my kids in what they think about Greek or Hebrew in a Bible text. "The original word is apokaradokia". I want to talk to them about some other words too, some words we might not be allowed to say in church, especially now Graham is 13 and Elijah is 16. One thing I really thank God for is I've had the opportunity to work out with Elijah the last couple of years. I'm glad it's going to be at least two more years before he can catch me on bench press. I kind of turned the workout room that's in our house into a little bit of a seminary study, like a laboratory, where I'm not only showing him how to do certain exercises, but I've been taking him through the top 100 rock albums of all time.
"Train up a child in the way they should go," and the way they should go is Led Zeppelin. We listen to Graves Into Gardens and Old Church Basement too, but then sometimes we listen to other albums. Something funny happened the other day where we were listening to Jimi Hendrix, "Little Wing," one of the greatest guitar intros of all time. I learned it when I was 14. Elijah says to me, "This guy sounds like Pearl Jam". He thought Jimi, 1969, was copying Stone Gossard and Mike McCready in 1991, because he didn't know who was copying who. I said, "No, boy. You don't have to grow up and be a Christian, but you will know that Jimi Hendrix…" There are some things that are nonnegotiable. They're copying Jimi. Jimi is not copying them. I disciple him in so many different ways. I'm pretty proud of myself. I show him technological advancements that have happened in the field of audio recording. I explained to him how downloading songs or streaming songs is a relatively new phenomenon and that when we wanted music from our friends we had to copy. But where it was bad… You would put this cassette tape and a blank cassette with it. That wasn't the problem. The problem was when you had to copy a copy of a copy of a copy, because every time you copy a cassette tape, the quality drops of the copy.
In Hebrews, chapter 8… Y'all thought this was story time. This isn't story time. This is a setup for my sermon. The writer of Hebrews is understanding that as generations have passed from Moses, the quality of faith has dropped within the religious system of his day. He does something kind of crazy in order to bring these new believers into an understanding of the process of emulating and imitating Christ. He points to somebody they never met, Moses, to explain about somebody they never personally met, Jesus. He talks about a tabernacle. You have to remember these people never saw the tabernacle they carted around the wilderness. It has been many years since they were setting up that tabernacle. It has been replaced now, not only by Solomon's temple. That one has been destroyed. There has been another temple built. So they are generations removed from Jimi. I like Pearl Jam. I'm a Pearl Jam fan. But he realizes that with every generational transference, there has been a loss in quality. He says things in Hebrews like, "You need to persevere. Y'all give up too quickly".
He's kind of fussing at them, so he brings in examples. He talks in Hebrews, chapter 11, about different people in the faith who endured, some people who were cut in half for their faith. He's trying to say, "You think it's bad because somebody didn't 'like' your comment on Facebook. It has been a lot worse". If I could talk to you today, I would use this subject: Be Careful What You Copy. What happens to a lot of us is we're not even conscious of what we're copying in our behaviors, and even our faith and even our concept of God sometimes came through so many generations that put their own concept of God on top of the biblical concept of God. Somebody did that to them who did that to them who did that to them who did that to them. By the time it gets to them, they say, "I'm not sure I want anything to do with God". But it's not God you want nothing to do with; it's the copy of God, the copy of the copy of the copy of the copy of the copy of God through all of these generations.
So, he's pointing to something they've never personally seen, an experience they never had, this tabernacle God commanded Moses to build with very specific dimensions. When God called Moses to build the tabernacle, he did it while Moses was on a mountain, and he spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks… Well, actually, he spoke to Moses, but then Moses had to go speak to the people. Sometimes when Moses would speak to the people what God had said, as he would say what God had said, they would twist it and make it something else. That has now been happening in Hebrews, chapter 8, for hundreds of years.
See, he talks about the covenant that was given, the old covenant, the covenant of Moses that God promised to be with his people if they kept his commands, but he's saying how Jesus brought a better covenant. He didn't tell us to build a tabernacle; he became the tabernacle. He was the dwelling place of God. Rather than a high priest bringing an offering like an animal or a bull or a goat to shed the blood of something else to atone for your sin, Jesus shed his own blood. He offered himself as a gift. He is a great high priest, a better high priest, a better covenant. He understands something about the people, that they are attempting to copy a lesser covenant, a covenant that depends on your behavior, not grace. Let's be honest. They came by it honestly, because we are all influenced by culture. If you don't believe me, I'll say this: the same way we sometimes can't even get from church to Monday morning…
You know how at church you can sometimes have these mountaintop experiences? "Lord, I'm going to serve you, and I'm going to pray with my wife and my kids, and I'm going to wait on you". Then that message doesn't even make it through Monday traffic. You don't even get to the office. From the mountain to Monday. I could preach about that. How do I get God from the mountaintop of inspiration to Monday morning? So, he's understanding that they're going to need something to help them get there, and he understands that you have to be careful what you copy. When Moses went up to get the instructions from God… The Ten Commandments. Remember those? Come on. You broke all of them. I know you remember them. You have to understand by the time Moses got back down, they weren't waiting on the Lord. They were worshiping a cow they made out of golden earrings. He was only up there 40 days. They would wander in the wilderness 40 years because after they came out of Egypt, they couldn't get Egypt out of them. I'm concerned that sometimes we are so controlled by culture… This is what God said: "See to it…" "Pay attention". It's a warning. He said Moses was warned. "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain, because when you get down off the mountain, the children of Israel are going to be naked, dancing around jewelry".
You have to so hear from God and know what he showed you and know what he spoke to you and know what he is doing in your life, not somebody else's; know what he's doing in your life, not the neighbor next door; to know what he's doing in your life in this moment that you build that. So, be careful what you copy from the culture around you that keeps you from discovering the kingdom within you. We copy culture around us, and we don't realize we're copying crazy. I know this, because when I tell people I don't watch the news very much, they look at me like I'm irresponsible. Just because people want to make money off a 24/7 news cycle doesn't mean I have to submit my mind to the stress it causes me. I don't have to. "Well, then you won't be informed". Yeah, but I also won't be insane. They call it breaking news because it's breaking your brain. Breaking news: you can't put out a bird feeder. Did y'all see that? It was breaking news on my screen. The birds are dying now, and we have to take our bird feeders down.
Well, maybe we do, but that's not breaking news about a birdbath. That's not a pandemic about… Did you see this? It's crazy! But we copy crazy. If everybody is a zombie on The Walking Dead, if everybody is staring at stuff and never looking at each other… Be careful what you copy from a golden calf, from something you got out of the Egypt God delivered you from. By the time Moses got down the mountain… This is why God warned him in Exodus 25. God is telling him, "Thou shalt not kill, and thou shalt not commit adultery, and thou shalt not covet. If you'll live the way the first commandments tell you to, you won't covet anybody else's life because you'll be so content with your own you won't have to take your neighbor's wife. You won't have to take your neighbor's ox. You won't have to take matters into your own hands". By the time he gets down talking about contentment, they're dancing around a calf. I can relate so much to copying culture, and then I miss Christ because the kingdom is within me. "But that's the Old Testament, Pastor Steve". Actually, no, it's not. It's in Hebrews in the New Testament. He said in the New Testament you need to be warned sometimes that if you don't build when you come down the mountain in your everyday life what God spoke to you in those moments where he touched your soul, you will miss the kingdom by copying the culture.
Now, people can twist anything, so some people will say, "Well, then you shouldn't have drums in church, because that's from the Devil and from the world". Do you want air conditioning in church? Because that's not in Exodus either. It's a way of thinking. It's what the Bible calls the patterns of this world that we conform to. The world squeezes you into its mold so that you start trying to have conversations with 280 characters. Then the medium becomes the mold we get squeezed into. We can't know each other as people who are created in the image of God because we are conversing with each other on a platform that was designed by people to get us to argue. Be careful what you copy from culture. I'm not saying you have to dress like you're out of 1933 to be a Christian. I'm not talking about external stuff. Neither was the writer of Hebrews. He was saying the external covenant is gone; it's the internal one that matters now. Our distinction and what makes us different is not that we look weird but that we refuse to conform to crazy. Be careful what you copy from a culture that has lost its ever-loving mind and is controlled by the Prince of the Power of the Air.
Do y'all believe in the Devil? If you don't believe in the Devil after the last two years… Be careful what you copy. Be careful who you envy. Some of us envy people who are secretly miserable, but you don't know that. This is my second point. Be careful what you copy from other people because you don't see the full picture. I remember watching a documentary last year, and I got so jealous of the person the documentary was about because he had won something like 16 Grammys. The whole time I'm watching him (I don't know if you ever do this), I sit there and compare my accomplishments to his accomplishments. It's like, "Yeah, but, Pastor, you touch souls for the kingdom". Well, I want a Grammy too. All right? I'm sitting there going, "I never won one Grammy. He has 16," or whatever. But then it was like the Lord spoke to me in the middle of the documentary and said, "Wiki him". So I put him in my Wikipedia app. (I donate to Wikipedia because they help me so much with my research. Every year.) I put his name in the thing, and I saw, yes, he has 16 Grammys, but he also has had five wives. I didn't judge him. I didn't turn off the documentary. I still admire him, but I realized that what I had done…
In the process of admiring his accomplishments, I had not considered the cost of those accomplishments. I want the Grammys, but I also want less than four divorce proceedings. No judgment on the guy. But isn't that what we do? We crop and copy. You know how you crop a picture? You know how when that person in your life is no longer in your life and you crop them out of the picture? We do that when we're comparing ourselves to other people because we're copying something that's cropped. They're showing you what they want you to see. Now you are copying a picture, a form, a shadow, a cropped picture. You see what they did, and you go, "Well, I'm not doing that. I'm not as good as them. I haven't accomplished anything like them". Here's what I noticed: some of the people we want to be like are burning out. Influencers who we see on social media… After we have bought all their makeup product and all their diet product and all of their fitness stuff, then we see their post about "Y'all, I just wanted to come on here today. People have been asking".
That's how every influencer post I've ever seen starts, and I'm not even on social media that much, but I have that one memorized. "I just wanted to come on here, y'all. People have been asking". Nobody has been asking you. Two people asked you. But now they're on a confession. Here's what's crazy. I've been copying somebody who comes on and tells me, "I'm actually depressed". I've been copying you? "I actually feel like I'm losing my mind. I can't eat. I can't sleep". I was so busy envying your bag I didn't realize that at the bottom of it is a bottle of pills you can't function without. Be careful what you copy from another person's life because you don't know what it cost them.
I told my father-in-law… He's a cool guy, so I get to tell him everything. We were talking about this one pastor, and we were talking about different people who discourage you along the way from ministry and one guy I met who had traveled the world. When I was like 20 years old, my dad had me go to Promise Keepers with him. It was actually in Charlotte. I was in college and my dad was still in Moncks Corner. We met in Charlotte for Promise Keepers. We got to volunteer behind the scenes, and I was running the clock. I already knew I was called to be a preacher. This very famous preacher was back there, and I walked up to him and said, "I don't want to bother you before you preach". He said, "Yes, you do. Apparently you do because you are right now". I said, "No, I just wanted to know… Can you give me a piece of advice as somebody I admire? You've written so many books, and you've shared the gospel with so many people. What advice would you have for somebody who aspires to do what you do"? He said, "You don't want to be me".
I thought it was rude at first, but he was trying to tell me something. He was trying to tell me about the surcharge of sacrifice. What I saw in his books that I admired… I don't know who this is for, but you have to be careful you don't set the blueprint of your life based on the part of somebody else's life you see, because they might be cropping out stuff you don't want to copy. I wish this was Inside Elevation, because I would tell all of the pastors in this room, "There's some stuff about Elevation Church I would not advise you to do". This is a great church. To me it's the best church in the world. I love the church I pastor, and you can't talk me out of that, but come on, man. When we call the event "Inside Elevation," it's not really inside Elevation. It's barely inside. It's like lobby Elevation. It is not kitchen Elevation. You're not going to see the real mess of it. See, this is what we do. We want to copy one part of somebody's life. What happens when we do that is we miss the bigger picture.
I wonder, have you been missing the bigger picture because you've been trying to copy somebody else and you saw one part of their life? They have more followers than you, but their kids aren't following them anymore because they're never there. "That's right. That's why I don't do social media". I'm not just talking about the platform. I'm talking about the thing inside of us. Do you know what I mean? Where we copy somebody who if you could really get them would say, "Don't do it like that. That's crazy. It cost me too much". The writer of Hebrews… Nobody even knows who wrote Hebrews, but he's so brilliant, because he's showing us Moses. Why is he showing us Moses and then Jesus? Because he's showing you that Moses could only take you so far. Even for the children of Israel… I mean, think about it. Moses led them to the edge of the Promised Land, but he didn't get to take them in. Joshua did that. When God called Joshua… Now Moses was a great man. No doubt about it.
Moses was actually gracious with the people he led, because God said one time, "Well, I'll just kill them and start all over with you and give you better people to lead". He said, "Lord, don't do that. It'll make you look bad. You said you'd put your name on these people and your hand was on them to bring them out of Egypt, so if you kill them it's going to make you look bad. I probably would vote for you to kill them too, but if we really take this into consideration, it's not good for your reputation, God, even though it's my preference right now". That notwithstanding, Moses was so controlled by the focus group he sent into the Promised Land he copied the fear of the 10 spies who said, "We can't go in," and he never got to lead the people.
So, by the time Moses dies in Joshua, chapter 1, God is giving Joshua a talk about what he has called him to do. He says something kind of cool. Remember, Moses really knew God. But look at this in Joshua 1:5. After he says, "I'm going to give you this land that I swore to the people…" Joshua 1:5: "No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you…" What does that mean? That means, "I'm going to be present with you like I was present with him, but your process, Joshua, will not be like Moses' process. And another thing: his limitations will not be your limitations. Where he stopped is where you're starting". You're not going to be like me. You're going to be better than me. You're going to be so much better than me. You're not Steven Furtick's son. I'm going to be Elijah Furtick's dad, Graham Furtick's dad, Abbey Furtick's dad. Do you understand?
When God calls you, when he puts his Spirit in you, you are not limited by what you've seen. That's not the end of your potential. So, he tells Joshua, "I'm going to be with you like I was with Moses. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful…" What's my sermon called? Be Careful What You Copy. Listen. I want you to listen like God is talking to you. "Joshua, don't be limited by what you saw Moses do. Moses is not your model; God is". That's what the writer of Hebrews is saying. See, the law could only take you so far. That's why Jesus came. The law was good, but it could only get you so far. The law was great, but it was flawed in that you couldn't keep it. There was nothing wrong with the law. There was something wrong with me. I'm the lid that kept me from going further when the law was my regulation.
So now, what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his Son, the better High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek, whose blood weighs more than a million bulls and goats and doves. That's who Jesus is. He is the arbitrator and the mediator of a better covenant. My covenant is not with Moses. My covenant is not with my past. My covenant is not with others. My covenant is not with my genetics. My covenant is not with my depression. My covenant is not with fear. My covenant is not with 10 spies. My covenant is not with this staff. My covenant is not with Pharaoh. My covenant is with my Father! I have a covenant, a better covenant. So, be careful what you copy from before when God is trying to bring you into something better. Oh, I'm so glad I don't have to do it in this season like I did it in that season. You know how we talked about copying the world when we started the sermon? All of those drug dealers and TikTokkers and all of those evil people. That's not who the writer of Hebrews was talking to. They weren't copying the world. They were stuck in a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of worship that was external. Wouldn't that be hard?
I can't even drive when I go to London because they drive on the wrong side of the road. (That's right. It's the wrong side of the road. It's pounds, not kilograms, too, while we're at it.) That's hard for me to even drive on the other side of the road. They're having to believe. They never personally saw Jesus. They're having to believe in that and let go of what they were always taught would bring them to God. If I can make this practical, because I know that's a little abstract… Most of what we copy in relationships is not what we were taught but what we caught from the relational dynamics we were around. You know how coronavirus is contagious? So is crazy. And they don't make a mask for that yet. If they could invent a mask for that, how many of y'all would buy it? $50? $100?
One of the first things Holly and I did when we sat down… This was after we had about three or four fights in our marriage. We started talking about, "How did your parents fight? How did my parents fight? What are we subconsciously copying from the way we saw conflict handled that is good, and what have we subconsciously copied that needs to go based on who we are, based on our personalities, based on our calling"? I honor where I came from, and I honor what I saw, but I don't have to copy what I saw when it no longer fits what I'm called to. I'm going to give you that again because you just missed that filet mignon. I don't have to copy what I saw. I can honor it, but I don't have to copy it. I can honor the tradition. "Thank you, Moses. You built the tabernacle in the wilderness. Thank you, high priest". (That's the line of Aaron.) "Thank you for that".
There's nothing wrong with that. In many ways, it's a continuation of that. But are you copying something you're no longer called to? Another thing… This is what happened with the Pharisees. Do you remember the Pharisees and the Sadducees? They were sad, you see, because they… They esteemed the traditions of men above the traditions of God. That's what happened to them. What does that mean? That means that as the law was given from Moses, the law was good, but as it got copied… A copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. Here's what had happened by the time Jesus showed up on the scene. They were still preaching God's commandments and copying those, but they had lost God's heart, to the point where if a man got healed on the Sabbath they would say, "You can't do that". They copied the commandments. Jesus said, "Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath". In copying it, they lost the quality of it.
A lot of our lives growing up… Everybody over 30, make some noise. There's some stuff that isn't bad, but you're standing in front of something better. If you copy the way you did it before as God is trying to bring you better… I'll give you an example from Moses' life. He did this one time. The people were thirsty one time in the wilderness. Moses is like, "Why, God? Why"? Like you're running carpool in a couple of weeks. Okay? "Why, God? Why"? The Lord is like, "Well, take that staff I gave you and strike the rock, and then the water will come out". He's like, "Really"? He's like, "Really. I'm going to show the people I'm God". He's like, "All right". So, the same staff… Remember it? I preached about it a few weeks ago. He parts the sea with it. Now he strikes the rock with it. Here comes the water, and the people drink, and God doesn't kill them, and they go on to complain some more.
Now, you have to go all the way to the end, because here's something it says in Hebrews. It says in Hebrews 13:7, "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God concerning you, and consider the outcome of their way of life". When we're looking at somebody's Instagram feed, we're not seeing the outcome of their way of life. We're seeing the snapshot. Even when you interact with people in church, they do not always lift their hands like they were doing 35 minutes ago. They are not always so peaceful and so worshipful and so holy, so don't judge yourself according to that. The Scripture says consider the outcome of their way of life. The reason Moses couldn't lead the people in was because in his frustration about the people's grumbling… This is crazy, because I think I've done this before. God told him the second time they were thirsty in the wilderness, "Speak to the rock and the water will flow out," but Moses didn't want to speak to the rock. He wanted to do it how he did it before.
In his frustration… You've been frustrated lately, so what you've been doing… This is what Moses did. It says he struck the rock…Pow!...that God told him to speak to. "I'm going to do it like I did it before. I don't care what you say, God. I'm going to get my way right away. I'm going to do this the way it benefits me. I'm going to show them. I'm the man. I'm Moses". He didn't get into the promise because he copied the way God told him to do it before. What I was wondering while I was praying… Because I pray for y'all. By the time we get together, I've been with you all week. I'm serious. I thought about how you are praying about some things in your life right now… You need water from a rock, water in the wilderness. That could be provision. That could be an emotional need you have. If I take it all the way, I see some of you trying to do what you did 10 years ago, and it's not working, so you are stuck, because you are copying the way you struck the rock.
Now God is giving you a new way to do it, but you won't do it the new way. As long as I copy the way I did it back then… I got a text from a friend the other day, and he said, "I want you to understand you're in a new season as a preacher now". I said, "Tell me about it". He said, "It's the season of a father. You're no longer a 26-year-old church planter. So when you preach, step into your role as a father now". I said, "I have people in the church who are 20 years older than me". He said, "It's not about chronology; it's about calling". God is giving you permission to do it differently. If you keep hitting stuff the way you're hitting stuff, if you keep doing things out of frustration, if you keep trying to copy what you did before… See, this is what gets me.
I heard a guy one time. He was standing up to preach to his congregation, and he said, "I wish I could have coffee with everybody in this church and share what I'm going to share with you today". I sat there and thought, "Well, you could". The church had 40 people in it. "You could knock that out by Thursday if you're really motivated, if you do three or four a day. I'm not good at math, but I think you could do that". He had heard another pastor who pastored 30,000 people say that, and he thought, "Well, that sounds cool". So now he gets up and copies in his context what he saw somebody else do in a context that is not his context. Remember when David put on the armor of Saul and walked around for a moment? He has to fight Goliath, and he's like, "Give me whatever the guy who fights wears". Saul is like, "Here you go. You can wear mine". David walks around in them a little bit, and he's like, "This is heavy, this is weird, and this is not me right now. I think I would be better off with my slingshot, with what God called me to do. I know this is how you would fight, but I have to do it differently".
Some of you as teenagers… God is going to show you you don't have to go to every party, because at the end of popularity, a lot of the people who are so popular are going home so miserable. (I tell you, I'm a dad right now. I'm preaching like a dad.) And, parents, we don't have to copy the way everybody else raises their kids. You have permission to break tradition with whatever does not fit your calling. You have to build in the valley what God showed you on the mountain. In case you haven't noticed, we live in a culture that worships our kids at the expense of our families. I had moments when the kids were all playing sports where I said, "Nobody is coming to your game tonight. We're dropping you off, and we're going on a date, because I haven't been with your mom in two weeks, and after you leave me, she's going to be the only one I have left in the house. I'll pick you up, and you can tell me about it, and maybe somebody else will get a video". So what? I'm supposed to parent them like they're all Serena and Venus? Like I'm supposed to be Tiger Woods' dad? I know. Culturally inappropriate reference.
A lot of stuff comes along with all of this. Everybody has to do it the way God shows you to do it. But what happens is we start building according to somebody else's blueprint, whether it's the world, whether it's the concept of God you were handed that is not accurate to the Scripture… You need to read the Bible for yourself. I'm not your professional Holy Spirit. I'm a preacher. You need to get in Hebrews and say, "Well, Pastor Steven missed this part, and this part was the best part. He said that, but that made me wonder about that". If it's just a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy… I'm just Pearl Jam. I'm not Jimi. I'm not Jesus. Neither is Moses. And neither are your broke friends you're taking financial advice from or your unmarried friends who are giving you marriage advice. "Well, I would tell them…" I bet you would! Your imaginary marriage. (I feel the spirit of Dave Ramsey coming on me.) "Be careful to obey the word I have given you, Joshua. You're going to go somewhere they couldn't go. You're going to do something they couldn't do. You're going to break chains that held them all their life. Now you do it, and be strong and courageous".
Stop copying crazy because you don't want to be weird. I want to be weird. If what I'm seeing in this world right now is normal, God make me weird. I want to be the weirdest one there is. "You ought not let your kids listen to that rock 'n' roll music and that rap music. I'll tell you what right now. That's bad. It's the Devil". I saw all of the kids who went off after their parents didn't experience anything with them. I have to decide how to raise my kid. Y'all, I put a picture of me one time with the kids… We went to see God's team, the Clemson Tigers. I had on a Guns N' Roses shirt. All of the comments on the picture said, "Why are you wearing a Guns N' Roses shirt? That's worldly". Not "It's good you're spending time with your kids". Like you live in a monastery. So, be careful what you copy. Be careful that you don't copy the condemnation other people put on you.
This is the last thing I'll tell you, and then I will just be quiet, and I will go baptize Graham, and I'm going to have the best time doing it. I'm baptizing him not in my name…in Jesus' name. I want you to do it like Jesus did it. I wanted to tell you one more thing God told Joshua. Be careful what you copy in your heart, for it will set the direction of your life. Did you hear what he told Joshua? He said, "Meditate on this book of the law Moses gave you. Don't be like Moses. You're different than Moses. But I want you to take the same word of God that was given to him…" What a brilliant thought, that what I copy in my heart… He said, "I want you to meditate on what I spoke over you so you can lead these people where I called you to go". Do you see how meditation sets direction? A lot of us with what we do with different things we've thought about ourselves, said about ourselves, agreed with about ourselves, condemnation the Enemy has put on us… We do a copy and paste. We take something like "I'm unworthy," we take something like "I'm not good enough. I'll never be…" Then I copy and paste it.
I almost did an illustration where I wanted to show you what would happen to the screen if you copied and pasted that over and over again. It would fill up. "I'm unworthy". And you know what? Apart from the grace of God, we are. Do you know how they say sometimes on a walkie-talkie "Copy that"? What God wants you to do is start meditating on his words, not the ones somebody else spoke, and copy it in your heart. He said, "I'm going to give you a new covenant. It's a better covenant, and it's not written on tablets of stone, because those break. I'm going to put it on your heart, and I'm going to give you a heart of flesh". I want you to take your Bible, and I want you to take what God has spoken over your life, and I want you to copy that. I want you to find out what he called you, what he gifted you to do, what he put the seed of potential in for you and copy that.
Don't get so caught up in trying to copy something you're not that you never find out who you are. You will have to be strong and courageous because you live in a culture that copies crazy. It'll take faith, and it'll take focus, but if God said you are his child, copy that. When God speaks that "I'm going to take even the mistakes you've made in your life, and I'm going to whip them up into something you'll be testifying about as a miracle three months from now," then copy that. I have these moments where God uses somebody to encourage me, and my first instinct is to cancel it out. "Oh, they just said that because they're being nice. Oh, they're just complimenting me because they're sucking up because I'm the boss. Oh, she just said that because she has to live with me and she doesn't want me in a bad mood". I'll cancel it instead of copying it. Then somebody says something mean about me, negative about me… Or they don't even have to say it; I'll say it to myself. And you want to copy that?
Anyway, when I baptize you in a minute… This is Graham. He says funny stuff like, "How am I so ripped in every part of my body? Nobody else in our family is naturally muscular". He really said that. When I baptize you in just a minute… It'll be after the cameras are off and all that. I almost asked Mom to get you here early today, but then I decided just to do it now because the Lord told me to end my sermon this way because he would use it to speak to others, so I'm going to say it to you. I started preaching from this Bible right after you were born. I had given the big one, the Life Application one, to Elijah, the one that sits by his bed. He has actually been reading it a lot lately, so that's good. Every time I preached a passage, I highlighted it and put what I preached. I've been saving it for you, and I want to give it to you today. I wrote you a letter, and I told you a story. You can read that later.
I marked in it where Jesus was baptized. Even Jesus was baptized. He was setting the example. You're not Jesus. You're nothing close. And I'm not John the Baptist. But when you're going to be baptized, it's a symbol. It's you emulating the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ and the washing away of your sin. It doesn't save you, but it says you're saved and you belong to Christ. In the note… And I highlighted this for you, and I put it all in the letter, but just in case it helps somebody else… When Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven said, "This is my son whom I love. With him I am well pleased".
I want you to copy that in your heart. I'm concerned that the culture is going to copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, and the Devil will try to tell you all kinds of things through your life, that you're not called or you're not chosen or it's not worth it or you're missing out by following Christ and all that. That's not true. I want you to copy that. The craziest thing is God said that to Jesus before he opened any blind eyes, before he multiplied fish and loaves. Before he did any of his miracles, God said, "I love you. I'm pleased with you". Copy that.
When you go down in that water, I want you to know you can die to the old. When you come up out of the water, you're raised to walk in the newness of life. Copy that. The Scripture says in Ephesians 5:1, "Be imitators of God as dearly loved children". When you didn't see the model of love, it's hard to recreate it. When you didn't see the model of acceptance, it's hard to recreate it. But today there is a voice from heaven speaking over you too. There is a better covenant. "This is my child. With you I'm well pleased". Copy that.
Father, I speak your Word over every man and woman today, from the ones who are 10 feet away from me to the ones who are thousands of miles removed. I pray that as your Word comes from heaven, like the rain that falls, like the snow that comes down, and accomplishes its purpose, that your Word would replenish and multiply the seed that is in our hearts today. We thank you that you are bringing us into something better than Egypt, better than the world's customs. We thank you that you are bringing us into something better than Moses. You're better than we ever thought you could be. When your Word speaks one thing and our fear speaks another, we choose to agree with what you spoke. We will copy that. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.